For Immediate Release Contact: Media@onlythroughus.org
(March 15, 2019)
Shock and horror are insufficient responses to today’s New Zealand mosques shooting. The White House must be held accountable for elevating white supremacy. Legislators and tech companies must urgently enact policy changes.
Friday’s terror attacks in New Zealand are the inevitable and direct result of overt hate speech and dehumanizing language towards Muslims and Islam both abroad and here in the U.S. We must come together as a country to hold accountable those actors--including the president--who mainstream this language. Any response to today’s events must go beyond shock, horror, and condolences. It must be clear that hate speech and fear-mongering towards Muslims, refugees, and immigrants writ-large will no longer be tolerated. In a 74-page manifesto, the shooter praised Trump as a 'symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose'. The shooter joins in a long line of white supremacists such as former KKK-leader David Duke and Richard Spencer in doing so.
Fear-mongering and white supremacy: Beginning with then-candidate Trump declaring that “Islam hates us,” to saying that neo-nazis and white supremacists carrying AK-47s on the streets of Charlottesville and mowing through protesters are “fine people,” to his insistence today--even after these Christchurch terrorist attacks--that white supremacy is not a widespread problem, this president has paved the way for the rise of white supremacists.
Action: Congress must pass a collective resolution condemning the president’s repeated endorsements of white supremacy and demand an unequivocal condemnation of white supremacy as terrorism. Congress must finally codify white supremacist violence as terrorism under U.S. law.
Islamophobia: When President Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos from known Islamophobes, that is elevating Islamophobia. When the president bans Muslims from traveling to the U.S., that is legislating Islamophobia.
Action: Enough is enough. Congress must vote to dismantle the Muslim Ban and associated policies. The president must explicitly demonstrate support for Muslim communities affected by these terror attacks as well an ongoing commitment towards the safety and security of those of Muslim faith.
The Role of Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, 8Chan, etc: When tech companies are made aware -- by their employees, law enforcement, and outside experts -- that their platforms have become essential organizing grounds for violent white supremacists, violent misogynists, and violent racists, and fail to proportionately respond to make these online communities safe, that is enabling hate crimes and violence.
Action: Congress must give tech platforms a deadline to present a full and detailed accounting of the actions they have taken to make their platforms safe and hate-free. Should the tech companies fail to do so in a timely manner, Congress should consider mandating that the companies temporarily shut down operational functions of their platforms--from scrolling news feeds to content-sharing functions--until they ensure that these basic safety issues are resolved. Too much is at stake for business as usual.
We should have done more before today, but to be clear, we can do much more starting now.